Women in Building Services (NI) - Interview with local Electrician
23rd Jan 2019
My name is Sarah McGimpsey, I’m a Building Services and Property Consultant at Corvus Recruitment. I’ve developed an interview blog series with Women in a variety of roles in the Building Services industry. This series aims to inspire the next generation and increase the number of women choosing a career in all sectors of the Building Services industry.
The interviews I’ve conducted will provide an overview of current experiences of women in the industry and their motivations for choosing Building Services. The first interview in this series starts with Belfast based Electrician from Parr FM, Ciara Rooney. Learn how Ciara got into Building Services and her experiences as an Electrician.
Sarah: “Tell us about your current role and what you do at the moment?’
Ciara:” I’m a fixed wire electrical tester. We test electrical installations in schools, large supermarkets as well as government buildings such as hospitals. We test electrical services from the main income to the outcome like lights or sockets to ensure they are safe, and they meet regulations. It is a regulatory routine which has to be done every 5 years.”
Sarah: “Are you out and about quite a lot?”
Ciara: “Yes, you’re in different places and environments depending on how big the job is or how long they last. You could be in a supermarket job for a couple of weeks and then go to a school project.”
Sarah: “What made you decide to become an electrician?”
Ciara: “My cousin is an Electrician. I’ve always heard how he loved it and how having a trade was a good thing to have. I thought to myself, I could maybe do that. I did some work experience for Belfast City Council, and they offered me an apprenticeship at the end of my work experience. My mum had talked me into doing A Levels as a fall back in case it didn’t work out.
But I loved it. It was hands-on and I’m a very hands-on person. I learn from working with my hands.”
Sarah: “Can you tell us a little bit more about your career journey and where it has taken you?”
Ciara: “I served my time with a company called William’s Industrial services. It was very much heavy industrial work, I served my time on wastewater treatment plants. It was by no means glamorous. It was dirty work and it was heavy work, but I loved it.
Then I did a stint in FG Wilsons for 6 months to try and get experience in more intricate works. I’ve dabbled in automatic doors and access control systems for a couple of months and now I’m a member of ADA which is the Automatic Door Association. Then I fell into testing, I actually applied for a PAT testing job with a company. They offered me a fixed wire testing job and that has been me ever since.”
Sarah: “What do you enjoy most about working in building services?”
Ciara: “When I was on site it was the end result of seeing a project completed. You are actually doing it yourself. Once it was completed you can stand back and think ‘I did that’. It’s really just being able to do it. In my house, if something goes wrong electrically, I can fix it. It’s great being able to do that.”
Sarah: “So you find it rewarding?”
Ciara: “It is really rewarding. Also, when I tell people I’m an Electrician, they are shocked - they don’t believe it.”
Sarah: “Do you know many other female Electricians?”
Ciara: “Unfortunately I don’t know any. I’m yet to meet another female Electrician and it’s disappointing that it’s like that.”
Sarah: “What do you feel could be done to encourage more women into Building Services Engineering?”
Ciara: “I think women are more inclined to go into engineering within an office environment. I think the idea of a building site can put people off.
Also, you don't hear of many women electricians on site. I think even highlighting that there are females out there on site who have gone through the same process as everyone else, undertaking their 4 years apprenticeship would be helpful.
During my 4 years apprenticeship, I fell pregnant and completed my AM2 when I was 6 months pregnant.’ I felt fully supported by my manager who was great.”
Sarah: “I suppose, it’s about promoting the career, showing that working on building site is a viable option for women.”
Ciara: “Yes, sites are completely different than they were years ago. I think it is easier nowadays to work on a building site as a female.”
Sarah: “And it’s a good career choice from a financial point of view?”
Ciara: “Yes, 100%. I can’t fault it.”
Sarah: “If you were talking to young females today, what would you say to encourage them into the building services industry?”
Ciara: “If they have the passion and they want to do it, go for it. Don’t let anybody stand in your way. If they say it’s a man’s job, it’s not a man’s job, not in today’s society. If I can do it, anybody can. Especially when I completed my AM2 exams while pregnant. We can do it. I would love to see more females in the electrical industry. As I said before there are female engineers, but there are not enough female contractors. That would be great to see.”
Sarah: “You are a very strong advocate for that, I have to say. Hopefully, if someone is listening or reads the blog, you may have encouraged someone to take the first steps.”
Ciara: “Hopefully, it would be nice if it did.”
By sharing more female engineer’s stories, I hope to increase the number of girls and women who will consider a career in the Building Services Industry.
If you’d like to share your story for my next blog series, you’re in the market for a new job or need help with a vacancy, please get in touch.
028 9091 2874 | firstname.lastname@example.org
More interviews in the WIBSE series-
Ulster University Building Services Student, Jade McGee - Read here
Mechanical Estimator, Nicole Wharry - Read here
Keep up to date with the WIBSENI series on Facebook
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